Entries Tagged 'Affordable Housing' ↓

Homeless advocates email council to vote against Task Force

While I support the task force to combat homelessness, I do agree with a couple of aspects from the people who emailed the city council to oppose it. The data and research has been done for several years, you just need to act and I think the TF should consist of stakeholders in the neighborhood, not friends of the mayor and council. Michelle makes some good points about the opportunity to act over the years. Mayor TenHaken promised in his 1st campaign he would make it a priority, the problem has only gotten worse. It will be an interesting debate tonight.

The first email is from former city councilor Michelle Erpenbach;

Good afternoon, City Council members.

Thank you for your service, and for taking a few minutes to review my reasons for asking you to vote no tomorrow on item 76 — against yet another Homeless Task Force. I would be there in person Tuesday, but I will be working in a neighborhood where Thrive’s Kid Link initiative is supporting programming that seeks to help prevent homelessness among children in our schools.

Homelessness is a complex topic that does not have a single silver-bullet solution. It takes many individuals and organizations with like minds and missions, working collaboratively! Your proposed new task force would splinter existing efforts while ignoring work that has been done recently — and continues to be done – by city staff, Helpline and other local non-profits, members of the Thrive Housing Action Team, and by the city/county Accessible Housing Advisory Board.

It’s time to stop studying and start doing, friends. I’m happy to schedule time to help you catch up with this important topic. In the meantime, please review these links and my comments:

  1. Thrive Housing Action Team (including city, county, and federal staff!) created a Housing Retention Specialist in 2021. Pilot program at East River Legal Services has successfully prevented eviction for 9 families and their children in just a year of operation. The real need? City partnership to take this from pilot to sustainability. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/children-families-secure-housing/. These conversations are already in the works.
  2. The Accessible Housing Advisory Board, city staff Amos Abu, and a variety of housing stakeholders including Helpline Center and Thrive are working on a Housing Navigation Portal that will help connect tenants with potential housing that meets their existing needs and budget. The real need? Council support and funding to help make the portal a reality.
  3. Former city housing staff (Chellee Unruh) met with clients of the St. Francis House and others to learn more about specific needs from that unique community. The real need? I would recommend reviewing this existing data, so you get a better understanding of this topic from the people living it every day.
  4. Thrive Housing Action Team (again, including city, county, and federal staff) created the OneRoof project that is providing wraparound services for those families who are most difficult to house. This is no longer a pilot and is thriving inside The Community Outreach. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/oneroof-evaluation/The real need? City support for the unmet needs that some of these folks continue to have.
  5. City/county project Just Home is tackling homelessness for those people impacted by the justice system. The real need? Council members to become well-versed in this important project and ready to support proposals that will come your way within months.
  6. Key non-profits are providing services for our unhoused neighbors. The real need? City council members to acknowledge the important work of St. Francis House, Bishop Dudley and UGM, and encourage them to work together in a stronger spirit of collaboration.
  7. Finally, the biggest need is for more local money without state/federal strings attached for building housing that is affordable to the poorest of our neighbors. Those in the 30% of AMI range. This comes in the form of a Housing Trust Fund. Even Rapid City has an HTF now and it is fully funded while the city of Sioux Falls didn’t grasp the idea when it was proposed 10 years ago. Thrive’s Housing Action Team is taking the challenge and will have a presentation for you in the coming months.

Again, please don’t splinter ongoing work and collaborations. Please encourage the city to instead join these organizations in building a better partnership and collective impact.

Stop studying and start doing.

Michelle Erpenbach

President

Sioux Falls Thrive

The second email is from Anny Libengood from Minnehaha County Human Services;

Hi, I am a social worker and was a front line worker at Human Services for 18 years. Most recently I was the Housing Navigator. During this time, I became closely and extensively involved in the lives of many vulnerable people in addition to learning the inner workings of community resources. 

The first thing elected leaders need to do is educate themselves on what work and research has already been done. They need to know what programs are out there, have been out there, and what programs need to shift and what programs need to stop duplicating services/resources. About 15 years ago, we had a 10 year plan to end homelessness as did many communities. We also had the Homeless Advisory Board that did extensive work and research. Did we implement anything? No. Fast forward 15 years and we now have TWO Augustana research studies telling us what the community needs to do. The research was extensive and included perspectives of front line staff and those experiencing homelessness. What have we done with these studies? Checked the box that we did them, I guess. “We” just keep creating groups because “we” can’t figure out what to do. (Thrive, Forward SF, Empower, AHAB, Sioux Empire Leadership Council, etc. etc.) and then none of them talk to each other. Stop studying the problem over and over again. It’s time to start the work. 

A couple of reasons the Bishop Dudley police calls have tripled is because the former director was a former police officer. It was easy for the calls to not be “logged”- and yes this is true. He told me this himself when I was providing case management to the homeless families staying there. He didn’t want the neighborhood or powers above him to see the calls and start complaining. Also, his no trespass list was longer than my arm. The current director has to go through regular police call protocols and she is trying to respect the mission of the BDHH which is Open Doors, Open Arms.

Please reconsider this Task Force and Study idea. I am willing to help educate. All you have to do is ask.

Thank you. I plan to be at the council meeting tomorrow.

Mayor TenHaken says Sioux Falls is a nice place to live, work, play & be homeless

Don’t take my word for it;


“There’s no good way to say this, but we are a nice community to be homeless in,” he said. By that, he means that our social service agencies such as The Banquet and Bishop Dudley Hospitality House are strong, well-run organizations. The churches in Sioux Falls are financially stable. The people are generous.



I become less surprised each time Poops tells us exactly what he thinks. First he didn’t sign up for the job, then he thinks candidates are jealous of him when he uses inside information to benefit his campaign, then he is angry about alleged pervert cops now he acts like living homeless in Sioux Falls is the lap of luxury.

It is amazing how incredibly tone deaf our mayor is. He has NO clue of the amount of slum housing and poverty we have in this city, and he doesn’t seem to care, as long as the non-profits take care of it for us.

The city has the resources to make public transit, employment and housing better, but they live in the shiny glass house on the hill and wish the minions below the best of luck.

Many of our issues with food insecurity, housing, addiction and employment could be simply fixed by seeking higher wage employers to which Poops response is ‘we can’t continue this wage inflation, it’s not sustainable.’ But I guess we can continue to allow non-profits to bail out the poor?

City of Sioux Falls Finally gets it together on housing, maybe?

So after our unemployment rates drops to almost zero, and we have more warehouse jobs than workers, the city finally engages on a housing plan, read it HERE.

While Director Matt Tobias’ (not sure what his title is since the Poops Admin likes to make up fancy titles every 3 months) presentation was the best I am not sure why it took a decade and a massive board to finally implement a plan just a couple of months from a city election. Matt made great points that I have been harping about for years like promoting the community development programs, increasing the income level of qualification and pushing for up to $30K loans at 0% interest.

Like I said, glad to see the wheels turning, but I am also wondering why it took so long. We have known for over a decade that the city was growing at an enormous rate and density in our core was crucial. Many administrations, private non-profits, councilors and developers have talked about it. In fact I attempted to bring in the Strongtown’s founder over 10 years ago to speak on it, but I couldn’t get enough people to help donate to his gas money and hotel room. When he eventually came, I had to chuckle when people said to me if I had heard of him.

I will tell you why it has taken so long to get the ball rolling; GREED and the cornfields are running out.

Just listen to what Greg Neitzert said about it, once again defending the developers and contractors and how gosh darn it, they need to make money or the plan won’t work. I agree, anyone in business for themselves needs to make a profit and they need to eat, but I have rarely met a large developer in this town that is living in central Sioux Falls in a 900 sq ft home. With their profit margins, no state income tax, low labor costs and multiple tax incentives, they do ok. There is absolutely NO reason why they can’t do projects in the core building density and NOT make money.

I also look at this as LOCAL economic development. Most of the smaller contractors that do this kind of work are local, they live here, their workers live here and likely they buy materials and tools here. That all gets recirculated into the economy.

Don’t fool yourself, these policies have been researched for a long time, but like most things in this city and even country, if someone can’t figure out how to gouge the consumer the feckless leaders don’t act. This is one of the main reasons it infuriated me that they are asking for a raise. I guess they think they need to be paid more for doing less.

Sioux Falls CountCilor Jensen continues to push useless trickle-down policies when it comes to housing

You know what they say, even if you know your are wrong, never admit it, just dig in deeper. During the latest episode of Inside Town Hall in which Councilor Brekke tells us to eat more vegetables and drive electric cars, Jensen continues to push the narrative that if we just give contractors and developers even more tax breaks we will get more housing (he supports legislative proposals that would create entire neighborhood TIFs, instead of individual homeowners and a rebate of excise taxes to contractors). While at the same time promoting (low-wage) workers to live someplace else. When it comes to affordable and accessible housing, it starts at the bottom, not at the top. But not in Sioux Falls, hand all the TIFilicious goodies to the ones at the top hoping they will throw us some crumbs while spray painting the poorer neighborhoods sidewalks.

And why would we NOT think Alex’s plan wouldn’t work? He works at the number #1 bank in the Nation, and he had no problem advertising the place while appearing on a tax payer funded program. Actually surprised me because every time he sits on the dais at Carnegie he has no problem flaunting his SF City Council logo wear puffy vest we all paid for (even though I suggested they just all get magnetic badges instead). It must have been at the cleaners when he recorded this show so he had to wear his primary employer’s vest instead.

City of Sioux Falls Housing Funding is Hypocritical

First off, many have wondered what happened to the housing coordinator. Not sure if Chellee Unruh was terminated or quit, but I guess she departed in April with no fanfare and no press release from City Hall. Seems a lot of Paul’s directors seem to disappear these days in the dark of night. There are often rumors of termination but no verifications from the big man himself. He must be busy taking selfies on bike rides or something. There was even a funny rumor a few weeks ago that Stoneless fired a public works minion (personally) after a citizen video-taped him flipping the bird. Not sure if that is true, but if it is, I got a good laugh. Hope he gave him a hug and a Guadd Bles Yah before he walked off.

Either or on housing, yesterday at the informational meeting a non-profit wants $500K from the city for a victim’s home for women saved from the sex trafficking industry. While I have no issues with this funding (except that they are probably one of those Christian conversion places) I find it a bit ironic that this administration AND police department can’t get a handle on all the illegal massage going on in our community when they know exactly where these places are. Heck, everyone knows where they are. You would have to be a complete dolt to not know where to get a tug and rub in Sioux Falls!

I think if I was on the council I would include an extra $1 million to the sex crimes unit with the PD to show that they are serious about it, I would also get the new Police Chief to make it his top priority. Kind of seems pointless to help a victim’s home if we are not going to do anything to stop these businesses in Sioux Falls. Isn’t prevention the key?

Also, doesn’t anyone find it a bit odd when these rare stings happen, the ‘victims’ are always apprehended but somehow the Johns and Pimps slip a way? Things that make you go Hmmmm.

Erickson & Jensen want to talk to you about housing, if you can make it

The only problem is you will have to be late for work to have that conversation with them;

Public Invited to Discuss Strategies to Expand Homeownership in Sioux Falls 
Councilors Alex Jensen and Christine Erickson will hear from citizens on how the city can make homeownership more accessible in Sioux Falls. Ideas gained from this outreach effort could be used for future legislative efforts intended to tackle the lack of homeownership opportunities. 
When: Thursday, May 20th 
Where: HyVee at 37th and Minnesota 
Time: 7:30am to 9:00am 


I have often noticed that if city councilors really want to hear from constituents they have these kind of meetings on a Saturday or after 5 PM. The Vice-CountCilor and Errackticson have ZERO interest in talking to constituents about these issues, that is why they are doing it on a Thursday morning when most working class stiffs are at work. Jensen even said in the meeting yesterday something like, “We would like to discuss these ideas with developers and contractors, oh, and I guess the public can come to.” You can’t make this stuff up, even if you tried.

Augustana to do another Housing Study

This is in the consent agenda of the SF City Council on Tuesday Night

I can’t believe it has been 4 years since Augie put out their study. Once the study is completed in 2021 I have no doubt that the actual numbers of people needing housing will have gone up, but I also believe the percentages will have gone up also. I still don’t know what our community has done in the past 4 years that encouraged more and better affordable housing. I may be proven wrong, but I don’t think this report is going to be any rosier. Now, I don’t want to get all negative nancy about it. There are sectors of our community that or doing well, but like the last study pointed out, there is a significant wealth gap, and I think it will be even wider.

There is something else I am going to call the ‘Amazon’ factor. I have NO doubt that they will have to draw in workers not only from the region but from across the country to get enough. Some have been curious why our local elected officials haven’t been standing on soap boxes bragging about it. I will tell you why, because they know about the low wages Amazon pays and what kind of worker this will attract. Hard to brag about bringing business to Sioux Falls when that business pays the same as fast food. I actually believe that bringing Amazon here will create more social ills for our community. I don’t think our local or state officials had a choice in the matter, let’s face it, it’s Amazon, they will do what they want to. There was no carrot on the end of a stick leading them here, it was logistics.

I am also curious if the city is the only entity funding this study? Any non-profits? The counties? The school district?

THRIVE REPORT: Part I

I finally finished reading the 227 page Report (DOC: Affordable_Housing_Needs_Assessment_2016). I encourage others to do the same.

I will be breaking down some of the more interesting STATS I pulled from the report.

My initial analysis is that Sioux Falls is going down a GRIM path when it comes to Affordable Housing, unless we take action NOW. This is what the report is encouraging.

The Report Points out;

Poor or No coordination and inefficiency between affordable housing organizations

Household incomes at or below $25K are increasing at a drastic rate and the divide between rich and poor is growing while middle income stays stagnant.

Extreme population growth has contributed to problem.

The task force recommends starting with the most vunerable, children living in poverty.

This table shows the gap between rich and poor and really how the poor are getting poorer and the rich increasing at a faster pace.

This table shows the projected enormous growth in the Healthcare industry in SF.

This shows the poverty that exists within our school system.

37% of SF workers make under $25K

THRIVE REPORT: Part II

This table shows the exploding home values.

This breaks down rental property in zip codes.

This breaks down rental rates in SF.

This breaks down income and home ownership.

This shows the percentages of school kids living in poverty.

THRIVE REPORT: Part III

These are some comments from people looking for affordable housing.

These comments prove that affordable housing needs to be built in our core and not out by $300K homes.

These comments are about all the ‘HYPE’ in national rating firms and magazines.